Thirteen-year-old collects for New Jersey storm victims
Amberlynn Jae Foote was donated books to read during an early-life hospital stint. Now, she's returning the favor.
If Amberlynn Jae Foote doesn’t have a project to work on, she gets antsy. But she doesn't just fill her time with anything that comes along.
Collecting toys and books for three elementary schools in New Jersey — Tommy H. Boyd Elementary, Seaside Park Elementary and Bay Head Elementary — Foote has focused her most recent efforts on providing for victims of Superstorm Sandy.
“I just like the feeling that I get, whenever I know I did something good for somebody else,” she said. “Because some people aren’t as fortunate as I am, and other people. So I think it’s good just to think of their smile, whenever they receive whatever I have.”
With her parents, Amberlynn will make the 18-hour drive up north Dec. 18, to drop the toys off in person, to the same region in which her mother, Nancy Finley-Foote, grew up and still has relatives.
It all started when Amberlynn came home from school one day to find her mother crying. On TV, her mom watched as the storm washed away landmarks from her childhood.
But this is not the first time this family has collected goods for disaster victims. They also donated cleaning supplies to Haiti, following an earthquake in 2010.
“It depends on the time,” Amberlynn said. “I’m doing toys for Christmas, coming up, because they don’t have anything, really. (For Haiti), it is was cleaning supplies. ... That’s what they were most in desperate (need) of.”
Ormond Lanes, Golds Gym, Ormond Beach Middle School and DeVinci's Italian Restaurant and Pizza will have drop-off boxes set up through Dec. 17.
Amberlynn, who says she wants to be a philanthropist when she’s older, was first exposed to charitable giving, on the receiving end, after being diagnosed with an immune deficiency when she was younger.
“We spent days and months at (the University of Florida Hospital), and she saw children come in with books,” Finley-Foote said. “And I think that’s probably what really inspired her — seeing people come in and give her a book to read. And then she found out it was donated.”
Amberlynn has also raised money for the American Cancer Society and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Contributing funds she raised through a lemonade stand, she's even sung with a chorus in front of Pope Benedict XVI, in 2007, at The Vatican.
But Amberlynn isn't all work all the time. Sometimes, she says, she just like to get outside and play.
“Whenever I’m bored, and my dad is free, we just kind of go up to the quads on Hull Road and just kind of hit balls and stuff,” she said. “Just for fun.”